In Washington, the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act governs the rights and responsibilities of landlords and most tenants. The law is fairly thorough in addressing most issues faced by both parties, and you should consulted legal advice in the event you have a problem with your landlord. Student Legal Services is a great resource and has experience in handling these types of cases.
Know your rights
A landlord cannot charge more than his/her actual costs of screening a tenant – according to the Tenants Union, the average cost is around $35. It is illegal for a landlord to charge a fee to put you on a waiting list. If a landlord requires a holding fee from you to ensure that you will move in, the landlord must provide (in writing) a receipt for the fee and the conditions under which you will lose the fee. If you do move in, the fee must be credited to a security deposit or your rent.
The landlord is required to provide you with a written rental or lease agreement, a checklist for the condition of the premises, fire safety and smoke alarm information, and a Tenants’ Rights publication. If the premises were built before 1978, a statement regarding lead-based paint must be supplied and signed by both the landlord and you.
In the city of Seattle, the landlord must provide you with a summary of the landlord-tenant laws of both the city and the state.
If your landlord will not make a required repair to the premises, there are remedies available in the law, but you MUST follow the requirements for using a “Repair Remedy.”
More information can be found at the Tenants Union of Washington State, “Options for Getting Repairs